MINNEAPOLIS -- A potentially season-defining homestand for the Minnesota Twins is off to a rough beginning.
After winning five of their final six games heading into the All-Star break, the Twins start the second half of the season with 10 games at home, giving them a chance to build on the momentum gained in series wins at Seattle and Colorado.
The Twins, who started the homestand six games under the .500 mark, were swept at home by the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend before beating the Cleveland Indians 4-3 Monday in the series opener. A team that was on the edge of contention at the break now is likely now in sell mode as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
While Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan didn't directly confirm that, he went about as far as he could without actually doing so.
"We aren't even .500. We're a long way from .500," Ryan said, whose team is 45-53. "I've got a fair idea of what we're doing, where we're at, who's ahead of us. We have a lot of clubs to jump over.
"Without coming out and saying it, until we get to .500, we're not exactly where we want to be at this juncture of the season."
The Twins have a number of veteran parts coming to the end of their contracts, players who might be of interest to contending teams. Left fielder Josh Willingham, designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales, catcher Kurt Suzuki and starting pitcher Kevin Correia are all in the final years of their deals, and they could help clubs in a variety of different ways. All except Suzuki are having down seasons, however, and likely won't retrieve anything more than a B-level prospect.
Suzuki, one of the Twins' two All-Stars, could be intriguing to teams like the St. Louis Cardinals or Baltimore Orioles. Both teams have a franchise backstop Yadier Molina (Cardinals) and Matt Wieters (Orioles) likely out for the season due to an injury.
Until then, manager Ron Gardenhire said he would continue to operate the same way in the clubhouse.
"I can't worry about that," Gardenhire said. "We just have to try and find a way to win a few ballgames. Upstairs, there's a conversation going on. We'll have meetings, we always do at this time of year, talk to the staff and see where they are at. But we can't worry about that. We need to play baseball."
STREAK: Won one
NEXT: Indians (RHP Danny Salazar, 1-4, 5.53 ERA) at Twins (RHP Yohan Pino, 1-2, 4.39 ERA)
--1B Joe Mauer continued to progress in his rehab of a strained oblique, taking grounders and throwing before Monday's game. Mauer landed on the 15-day disabled list July 2.
--1B Kendrys Morales singled in his first at-bat, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. The streak is the third longest of his career and the lengthiest since a 20-game run in June and July 2009.
--LHP Kris Johnson was optioned to Triple-A Rochester following Monday's game as the Twins recalled Yohan Pino to start Tuesday against the Indians. Johnson was in line to earn his first major league win Monday, having allowed two runs over five innings, but a late run against the Twins bullpen spoiled the opportunity. "It always creeps in your mind, but it's the end results," Johnson said. "It's the Twins got a victory that counts. Maybe it'll come later, maybe not. You never know. It's the Twins' victory that counts most."
--RHP Yohan Pino was recalled from Triple-A Rochester following the game Monday, and he is the projected starter for Tuesday's game against the Indians. Pino has started five games this season for Minnesota, going 1-2 with a 4.39 ERA.
--LF Josh Willingham drove in the go-ahead run with a solo home run in the eighth inning, his ninth homer of the season. He went 2-for-3 on the night, and the home run was his first since July 5. The go-ahead RBI was his 10th of the season, tied for the team lead.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "(With the count) 3-2, I'm just looking to get on base somehow. Really, you're just battling. I wasn't looking for a slider, just for something out over the plate. I recognized it and got the barrel on it." -- Twins LF Josh Willingham, on what he was expecting during his eighth-inning at-bat Monday in which he hit the game-winning homer against the Cleveland Indians.
--RHP Ricky Nolasco (strained right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 7. He might throw a bullpen session by the end of the week of July 21-27.
--1B Joe Mauer (right oblique strain) went on the 15-day disabled list July 2. He took dry swings in the cage before the July 20 game, then fielded grounders and threw the ball July 21.
--RHP Mike Pelfrey (strained left groin, right elbow surgery in June 2014) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 2, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 19. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester on May 16. He returned from Rochester on May 28 after experiencing elbow soreness. He underwent surgery June 10 to clean up scar tissue in his right elbow that was causing pressure on his ulnar nerve. He is expected to be out until at least mid-August.
RHP Kevin Correia
RHP Phil Hughes
RHP Kyle Gibson
RHP Yohan Pino
LHP Glen Perkins (closer)
LHP Caleb Thielbar
RHP Anthony Swarzak
LHP Brian Duensing
RHP Casey Fien
RHP Jared Burton
RHP Matt Guerrier
RHP Sam Deduno
1B Chris Parmelee
2B Brian Dozier
SS Eduardo Nunez
3B Trevor Plouffe
DH Kendrys Morales
INF Eduardo Escobar
LF Josh Willingham
CF Danny Santana
RF Oswaldo Arcia
OF Sam Fuld
OF/INF Chris Colabello
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- Yohan Pino
- Kendrys Morales
- Kurt Suzuki